Real Voices: Ceri-Louise Griffin

The automotive industry is the first sector I have worked in where I feel truly at home

My story, I feel, has been quite an incredible journey over the last six and a half years with LKQ Euro Car Parts! I began as an Administrator in 2018 for the branch in Milton Keynes. I was very nervous and timid. It was a male dominated industry within LKQ Euro Car Parts and the customer base, and I felt I had a challenge to make my mark and find my place within the business.

Within eight months I had been promoted to Operations Manager and, for a time, I also took on the role of Acting Branch Manager. At this point I was still new to the business and felt that I had taken on too much. It was the support from the network of colleagues I had built up that allowed me to push through and receive the first green audit the branch had achieved in five years! The support I received from the Branch Manager in Bicester, Gary Grainger, was above and beyond and it was him that began to train me at a higher level.

I then received a second promotion to Divisional Coordinator for Garage Equipment at Head Office. Whilst there I met Anne Blight, the Head of Loyalty Programme – Campaign and Event Management. She has been an inspiration to me and showed me just how much women can grow in this industry. Sadly, when COVID hit, the brand new role that I had taken on was made redundant and I thought that my career with LKQ Euro Car Parts had come to an end.

Six months later I received a call from the Branch Manager at Bicester asking me if I wanted to ‘help out’ at the branch. This meant going back in at the bottom and it was up to me where I went from there! Over the last three years Gary has put me through a strenuous training programme and pushed me to the limits. I have worked in every role within the branch and mastered the dispatch post. I was top of the region for nine out of twelve months for SLA and driver scores and built a fantastic team around me.

During this time I was invited by Greg Rowntree, Head of Operational Excellence, to create a briefing board for the dispatch teams to use companywide. I was also invited by Phil Taylor, Head of Health and Safety, to be a member of the H&S committee. A few months ago, I also had the opportunity to meet the Group HR Director, Donna Fearnly, who inspired me beyond expectations and has driven me to reach for greater things. Meeting Donna, I was invited to become a PAVE Champion and had the opportunity to meet another strong and inspirational woman, Jessica Harris, every time I converse with her I am excited about the future! Colleagues like this have shown me that I can achieve anything I want and that drove me to make a big decision for my future.

I spoke with my manager, and told him that it was time for me to move forward and stand on my own. It was a difficult decision to leave the amazing team that have supported me over the last three years and nerve racking to move on from the Bicester branch, however, I also wanted to show women joining this industry, and those working in it, that anything is possible if you want it enough and you build that network of support around you – men and women!

Soon, I will be starting my new role as an Operations Manager at Oxford City. Making the decision to go back in at the bottom and work my way up with incredible training along the way from inside and outside of the branch has made me stronger than I thought possible. I don’t think any other company could off the training, support and opportunities that I have received. I wish to continue moving forward and really hope that my story will inspire people to feel like they fit in and can reach for their goals. Every colleague, in every role has a part to play in supporting ‘the person to their left’. If we see someone struggling, it is our responsibility to acknowledge that and do our best to help, to promote, and to grow.

My motto is that is takes every member of a team to make something work – be a link in that chain – don’t be the one that breaks it. I live by the MO that you should ‘work like someone is watching’ weather that is your daily tasks or supporting those around you.

The single best, and most important thing about my job is the network of people I have built around me. If you need anything, there is always someone who can help and advise whether that is in the branch, in another department or simply at the end of the phone.

I have worked for LKQ Euro Car Parts for 6.5 years now and worked in many areas to build my skill set. My previous role outside of the industry was as a manager for Aldi. The skills I brought with me into the business were a strong work ethic, the need to work quickly and efficiently. The knowledge that every person is different and therefore needs to be managed differently. I also gained the ability to work in a fast-paced environment.

My experience from becoming a member of the LKQ Euro Car Parts community is that the opportunities are boundless, for both men and women and that you can achieve anything if you work hard, train hard, and put you heart into it.

The automotive industry is the first sector I have worked in where I feel truly at home. I have gained skills I thought I would never had. I have built an amazing network of people around me, and I have been given the opportunity to raise to levels I thought I would never achieve. I am proud to be part of LKQ Euro Car Parts and the motor industry, it has helped to carve me into the strong and confident woman I am today.

Ceri-Louise’s words of wisdom

“The opportunities in automotive are boundless, you can achieve anything if you work hard, train hard, and put you heart into it.”